Wisconsin Supreme Court Cancels Oral Argument in “John Doe” Cases

On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced it would not hold oral arguments in three cases concerning the future of a John Doe probe into alleged improper campaign spending, report Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The court will instead only consider submitted briefs whose contents remain sealed. The court orders describe a “severe tension between important and conflicting priorities” of open courts and respecting the original John Doe secrecy orders. The orders find that “the parties [had] not provided [the court] with a workable procedure” to protect the confidentiality of information during oral argument. Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson dissented from all three orders, finding the court’s explanation insufficient. “The court’s failure to provide further justification for its highly unusual decision to cancel oral argument is, in my view, alarming.” Justice David Prosser also dissented, arguing the court should hear oral arguments in secret, with a delayed release of edited transcripts and video.

Comment: Shirley Abrahamson is a good egg. Prosser, not so much.


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